Name of product/campaign:Zetia e-Merge Program

Company/client owning product/campaign: Merck and Co.

Year launched: 2005

Agency producing product/campaign: TBWA\WorldHealth (formerly CAHG)

Team members:
Dr. Bill Marovitz – Chief Science Director
John Glen – Digital Strategist
Mike Banner – Account Director
Holly McGregor – Account Supervisor
Copywriter – Jeff Hughes, Creative Director, PhD.

Goals of product/campaign: In 2004, Merck and the Zetia Brand Team wanted to develop a non-personal treatment education program to target cardiologists and primary care physicians who frequently treat patients with cholesterol issues. The program objective was to demonstrate that adding Zetia to a patient’s existing statin regimen is a more effective treatment for getting patients to their cholesterol goal than titrating their existing regimen to the next highest dosage.

Description of product/campaign: CAHG developed a program that utilized the authority of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to demonstrate the advantages of adding Zetia to a patient’s existing statin regimen. CAHG designed and developed a proprietary online solution, called eMerge, that targeted and recruited physicians online and invited them to engage and learn about the advantages of add-on Zetia treatment.

eMerge was an online proprietary portal site where targeted physicians were invited via email to review a series of three KOL-hosted patient case studies that utilized both a KOL video component and a multiple choice question format where peer response was displayed. The case studies were intended to utilize KOLs to establish legitimacy and peer response to modify physician behavior.

Part of the eMerge program was based on the “Delphi Method” developed by the Rand Corporation in the 50s, The Delphi Method solicits the opinions of experts through a series of carefully designed questionnaires interspersed with information and opinion feedback in order to establish a convergence of opinion.

Each case study demonstrated Zetia’s superior add-on treatment outcome when patients needed to meet their cholesterol goals. When participating physicians answered each multiple-choice question, their answers were compared to the answers of their peers who previously participated in the eMerge program. Although each multiple choice answer was a viable treatment option, the KOLs provided what they considered the most appropriate answer that highlighted Zetia’s superiority. Each answer was compared to those of peers, so participating physicians were able see the KOL’s treatment opinion and how other physicians answered. From those compared responses, physicians learned what was the appropriate treatment option. The program demonstrated a physician who answered case #1 in a certain way would revisit and perhaps change their responses by case #3 due to the influence of the KOLs and their peers.

What made this a special product/campaign: In 2005, pharmaceutical companies were stepping up their exploration of how to connect and engage physicians on behalf of their brands. The companies were very active forming internal CRM departments trying to find and engage physicians to develop and secure long-term relationships. It was no coincidence that it was a time when physicians were getting more active on the Web, searching and engaging relevant content online. Online access and download speeds were getting better, and so was the quality of relevant health content for physicians. It was the year SERMO® launched that allowed physicians to seek out and engage their colleagues through a number of different online programs at the site, if only to ask a simple question about a treatment approach for their patients. Because of these improvements, physicians were rapidly gaining confidence in their abilities to access the Web and engage audiences like colleagues, pharmaceutical companies, and third-party portal sites. with all of this momentum pushing more physicians online it seemed like a good time to introduce a program like eMerge. However, it was also a time when many pharmaceutical companies, physician portals, and other third-party companies were vying for the same physician audience.

There are many reasons why eMerge was a special program. The first and most important was the unique physician recruiting practice. Utilizing top KOL Cardiologists, whom other prescribing cardiologists and primary care physicians look to for their expertise in statins and treating cholesterol issues in patients, were personally inviting physicians to participate. That led to excellent open and engagement email rates, especially when so many Pharmaceutical companies were connecting with physicians via email.

Second, as already mentioned, we used the Delphi Method already mentioned. It’s believed to be the first time this method was used online, and with physicians to assist in developing a response and a convergence of treatment opinion.